Ever started something then stopped?
Ever wondered how you could stay consistent with your goals?
On both accounts.
I can’t tell you how many times I have started down a path only to switch lanes within the first 100 meters. In my head, the switch is always justified. But with some hindsight, I have come to realise that the times I have “pivoted” too soon was because of some combination of fear, anxiety, and the need for instant gratification.
Over time I have become better at this. Although I am still a quick starter I know to take some more time upfront to think through the commitment that I am making and whether it truly aligns with where I want to go.
So, if I was to pinpoint some of the root causes of inconsistent action it would be:
- Starting without considering the time (and money) investment needed.
- Starting without thinking of where this course of action will take you.
- A poor patience threshold (also poor anxiety and frustration tolerance).
Based on my experience and from what I have seen in my coaching practice here are 3 ideas for you to consider to become more consistent:
1. Know thyself
If you want a life filled with glorious action then self-awareness is a crucial skill to develop. Specifically, self-awareness around your stop-start patterns.
Like in my example, do you stop because of choosing the wrong path to go down and then course correcting halfway through? Do you stop because something new, exciting, and shinier come along? Do you stop because the task at hand feels overwhelming at times?
We all have stop-start patterns and being able to identify them helps us to fix them.
When you go to a doctor with a pain in your stomach you want her to give you a diagnosis, a name for what you are feeling. Because when you have a name you know what to expect and how to go about fixing it.
The same thing applies here.
Step one is to name your stop-start pattern.
2. Start Better
A lot of inconsistency comes down to the fact that we just didn’t plan adequately enough upfront.
We then get tempted by the golden allure of a new opportunity and find excitement in shifting our attention to the promise of a quick win. This little shift-trick has the added benefit in that technically you didn’t fail at what you were doing before. You have simply pivoted and adjusted your focus. A very convenient little lie to tell yourself and others.
So, to be more consistent we have to start better.
This means starting with the intention of finishing.
To this end you should:
- Purposefully delay taking on a new project or idea. Create some artificial time constructs that you have to adhere to. For example, instead of jumping in after deliberating a new idea for a day or two, stretch it out to a week or two.
- Create an accountability chain. Meaning that you have to get sign-off from a few people who have your best interests at heart before continuing further down the rabbit hole. Selecting the right kind of people is obviously crucial here.
Know that there is going to come a time when you will want to shift again.
Recognize that if you had a good start (aligned & thought through) then the reason you want to quit is probably due to what’s happening beneath the surface.
Beneath The Surface – Regulate Better
We mostly tend to procrastinate because of how a task makes us feel and not because of the task itself.
“We have a brain that is selected for preferring immediate reward. Procrastination is the present-self saying I would rather feel good now. So we delay engagement even though it’s going to bite us on the butt.” – Tim Pychyl
At the heart of this lies what is known as a low frustration tolerance. LFT is an inability to sit with anxiety and frustration. Thus when a task evokes negative emotions in us we smash through our tolerance threshold pretty quickly and then decide to distract ourselves with anything else.
Here are some ideas for how to better regulate this process:
- First prize is realizing when this is happening to you. Once you become aware of the process you can choose to actively engage with it and in the process practice raising your threshold. Not everything is supposed to be easy. This is your opportunity to practice your response to things that aren’t easy. Lucky you.
- Next, you should ask what emotion you are experiencing and what it is trying to tell you. Why does this specific activity create this specific emotion? There is research that suggests that when we can name a negative emotion it helps us to start thinking more rationally and logically again. Helping us move beyond the shackles of poor emotional regulation.
So, there you have it.
3 Ideas for becoming more consistent and creating momentum behind your actions.
The only question that now remains is will you do something with this information?
Has reading this simply been another distraction?
Or will you use it to do work that matters?
Acta Non Verba,
PS – Click on the banner to find out more about Team Journey’s. A facilitated process of taking your team from a current understanding to a new understanding, from a current way of thinking to a new way of thinking, and from a current way of performing to a new way of performing.